Friday, June 12, 2020

Great Summer Reads Countdown Blitz: Hermana by Becca McCulloch

Becca McCulloch is a wife, mother, professor, and writer but rarely in that order (if in any order at all). At night, she transitions from mild-mannered educator into mild-mannered artist, writing about LDS (Mormon) issues in a modern and complex world. In 2016, she won the Storymakers' First Chapter Contest/General Fiction category. In 2019, her novel, Hermana, was named the General Fiction category winner for the LDS Publishers Media Association.

Becca resides in Utah with her husband, 2 children, Great Dane, two cats, and a pesky, yet friendly raccoon that won't leave the outdoor shed.

WINNER! 2019 general fiction book of the year from the LDS Publishers Media Association.

Bookish and street-smart Lannie Lewis wants to be more than the child of a broken home who flunked out of music school. Full-time mission service will carry her away from the problems with her dad and immerse her hands in the work of God, or, it would if she’d stop hiding in the bathroom and wishing the island had better bug spray. When a disaster transforms her mission into a world of peril and overwhelming need, she will have to learn to hear the Lord’s voice for herself, even if it means she stands against the crowd. 

~ Universal Amazon Link


I float through Shulz’s transfer like the in-focus character in a nouveau French film. Figures move past me, obscured in a fog. Loss slows time and shifts experience inward. Other scenes in this film replay in my head. My grandfather’s funeral. The day my dad left. Juries. Saying goodbye to mom in Salt Lake City.
Schulz and I stand beside each other as the training hermanas’ car approaches. We’ve not spoken all morning. Stoic Schulz preferred the view to conversation. A few jokes passed between her and Blank, but nothing for me.
“You’ll be a great training hermana, Schulz.”
“Thanks, Lewis. Try to stay alive.”
That’s the end of Schulz and me. She climbs in the car with Hermana Litchford, who still looks like she should be cavorting on a beach in a Pac Sun ad, and Hermana Stathos, who spares me a small wave and inquiry after my arm.
My new companion will come by bus. She’s been part of a threesome, so her poor comps get to waste a day on this transfer. No one knows when the bus will arrive. We sit and sweat while ancient buses stuffed with Dominicans and livestock rattle and sputter by at uncommonly high speed. The dirt whips into dust devils and makes the heat hotter. My Coca-Cola tastes gritty.
“I volunteer to get us all fresh sodas,” I murmur to the Elders. Everything already feels different without Schulz. Without her, we’re the sad pictures from the 1920s American dust bowl. Faces filled with deep lines and dirt. Nothing exciting at all.
When I get back, Hermana Olsen sits on her luggage opposite the Elders. This is the first I’ve seen her since we left the MTC. She’s changed, too, roughened at the edges. I hold out the 7-Up and Coca-Cola bottles for her to choose. She rejects both. The Elders take their Dr. Peppers. My insides feel like dried-out paint trays, so an extra soda is fine by me.

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